Identify the strengths and possible areas of improvement in your application to health professional schools.
Application reviewers are looking for various qualities in the review process. Your ability to address the following elements are key to standing out and finding the best fit as an applicant.
1. You understand the profession (ex: medicine, dentistry) you're applying for.
2. You are going to be good in this profession.
3. You are a good fit for their school.
4. Their school is a good fit for you.
Need help with your application? Attend an application seminar offered every winter or spring quarter. Seminars cover the following topics:
This 1 credit seminar is graded as credit/no credit. Register and learn more at the Career & Internship Center website.
Most applications to professional schools are managed by centralized application service companies. You can learn more about the application, timeline, process and more by reviewing their websites.
Most applications will require a personal statement. Your personal statement should consider and address the following topics.
OUGL Writing Center – The OWRC offers specialized assistance through all stages of the writing process; make an appointment online or simply drop in
CLUE Writing Center – Staffed by undergraduate and graduate student tutors; no appointment needed
UW School of Medicine webinar – covers how to convey your motivation, life experiences, and preparation for a medical career in your application
EXPD Undergraduate Research Program – provides assistance in writing about your research experience to highlight the skills you gained and how they will fit with professional programs
Husky Leadership Initiative – helping students develop a personal leadership philosophy and grow into socially-responsible change agents and effective community leaders
AAMC Brochure for Letter Writers – guidelines about how to write a letter and key areas of interest to medical schools
Interviews are a key part of the application process. There are many kinds of interviews including video interviews, in-person interviews, and multiple mini interviews. Think of the interview process as an opportunity to make sure the program/school is the right fit for you.
Source: Tips from an admissions office on interviewing for medical school, Association of American Medical Colleges
Be the expert on you. Know what experiences you included in your application and your supplemental answers, because everything you chose to include in your application is fair game for the interviewer. Not being able to robustly answer a question about your own application is a major flaw. If you included research, know the hypothesis. If you worked for a nonprofit, know the mission. If you volunteered to help people enroll for health care under the Affordable Care Act, know the basics of the Affordable Care Act. If the interviewer asks about a specific experience, do not repeat what you already wrote in your application. Add depth to your written application and reflect on the experience during the interview with greater detail and insight
Convey your motivation for medicine and your interest in the school. At the end of an interview, I evaluate a candidate across several domains. One of those is motivation and passion for medicine. If I cannot recall why the applicant is interested in a medical career, I usually score them lower. I also give lower scores for very bland answers like, “I like people and I like science.” Please personalize that answer! You are there to testify as to why medicine is right for you and why you are right for medicine.Your motivation and passion must leave an impression. Convey your interest in the school by stating why you feel it is a good fit for you and what programs it has that you are interested in, and ask questions to further explore fit. Research the school’s programs and opportunities in advance so you can have a productive conversation.
Prepare, don’t rehearse. I see several interview reports a year where a committee member writes that an applicant was “too rehearsed” or “too scripted.” The compulsion to memorize and practice answers sometimes leads to too much pivoting in the interview where an applicant doesn’t answer the question asked but gives the answer they prepared instead. This is not only frustrating, but shows a lack of communication skills, which is something I am assessing in the interview. The best interviews are conversational and allow me to explore your experiences, motivations, and reflections, but also your personality. I have had great interviews where the conversation evolved to all sorts of topics not listed in the application that enabled me to see an applicant’s critical thinking skills, analytical skills, and personality.
Be a storyteller. Stories are powerful and memorable ways to convey your ideas. Consider your areas of growth, your accomplishments, your past failures, and your motivation for medicine. Think about instances of teamwork, failure, disappointment, goal setting, or resilience. Catalog stories in your mind that relate to these areas so you can easily recall an example with a story if asked a related question. Reflect on growth and meaning as much as possible. How did you change? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time?
Career & Internship Center offers mock interviews for health professional schools. Sign up today at the C&IC website.
Attending professional school is expensive but there are many options available for financing your education. Student loans are often the reality for most students, however you can also explore loan forgivness or loan repayment options for providing medical service for a particular organization, employer or program.
Source: Paying for Medical School, Association of American Medical Colleges
We encourage students to enroll in Applying to Health Professional School offered winter and spring quarters. The course is designed for and most beneficial to UW students and alumni who are planning to apply in the current year to graduate-level health professional programs, including dental, medical, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant and veterinary schools. To locate the class, please look under General Studies (GEN ST) 297.
A good place to start is to look in the Explore section of the UW Pre-Health website under ‘Career-Specific Planning Guides’. A helpful tool is to also look at the ‘UW Specific Planning Guides’ (bottom of the page).
Because every health graduate program is different, we encourage students to research specifically into the schools they are interested in and start gathering information on what their prerequisites are.
This all depends on the professional school you are applying to, their application timeline, and process. We suggest looking at the Career Specific Planning Guides in the Explore section as well as looking up the professionals school you wish to apply to and better understand their application timeline and process.
Recommended classes are not required, and students do not have to take them before application. They may want to consider taking them before matriculation, and most of these courses are available at Community Colleges where students can take them while they are preparing to matriculate. Students are encouraged to research their target schools to learn more about their required and recommended coursework.
Letters of recommendations are a vital part of a health professional school application. Professional schools vary in terms of how many letters they require and from whom. Establishing relationships with faculty, professors, TAs, mentors, principal investigators, and supervisors early on can help with creating a strong letter of recommendation.
It can be challenging to develop these relationships at a large public university like UW. Students should work to identify potential letter writers during their first two years at UW and seek to build and maintain relationships with these people. Consider the following strategies:
- Visit their office hours.
- Learn more about their research and inquire about work in their labs.
- Participate frequently in their classes and ask intelligent questions.
- Take additional courses that they offer, especially ones with fewer students.
Students are encouraged to view our short video on “Getting Great Letters of Recommendation”.
Make a 30 minute appointment with a career coach on Handshake to go over materials. If possible, send your materials at least two days in advance via email to give the pre-health career coach enough time to review.
Workshops and videos are available that cover this topic. Please see C&IC website events calendar to see when these workshops are happening and the C&IC videos page to hear from current medical students on their application experience.
Also, you can access departmental advisers, professors, and/or mentors to help with the writing process. Make an appointment with tutors at the Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC), CLUE Writing Center, Instructional Center (IC), and other departmental writing centers.